How I Came To Write This Book
By John McFetridge
I think it was a member of The Eagles who said that you spend ten years in a band learning songs, playing gigs, touring, refining your sound and when you get a chance to make a record you take the best from all that.
And then you have six months to make another record.
I spent years writing short stories and screenplays and a couple of novels that never saw the light of day (my version of touring) and then took the best of all that for my first novel, Dirty Sweet.
And then I had six months to write another book.
Well, I suppose I could have taken a lot longer than that but after trying to get something published for over twenty years when I finally did I wanted to keep the momentum going.
And I was in my mid-forties and thinking about something from another band, Canada’s Tragically Hip, “No dress rehearsal, this is our life.” It’s a sentiment I’ve heard a few times, how do we know when our lives really start? We have no real rite of passage into adulthood anymore, we just kind of slide into it. Well, it’s gotta be by 45, right?
I was looking around at my life and liking it a lot and wondering, how did I get here? I certainly hadn’t followed any kind of plan or design.
I thought that was something worth exploring, how do people end up where they do?
Another musician, Niel Young, provided a great title, “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.”
I like to be as direct as possible in my writing, so the first page in the book is from the point of view of a young prostitute wondering how she ended up where she is in her life as she gets into a customer’s car.
And then a body falls from the roof of an apartment building and lands on the windshield.
From there I just moved outward finding new characters that were all at a point in their life where they’d never expected to be; a detective coming back from leave after his wife died, the captain of a laker frieghter fighting bankruptcy by selling a little marijuana, a woman running a grow-op in the apartment building, a biker taking his gang to a new level in a new city, an illegal immigrant woman working in a massage parlour and so on.
The book could probably have used another nine years of gestation, but I do think it captures how I was feeling at the time and might get you thinking about how you ended up wherever you are.
John is also the author of LET IT RIDE and DIRTY SWEET. You can find him at Do Some Damage as well as his own blog.